The Break-up of the Ice (La Débâcle or Les Glaçons)

Claude Monet1880

University of Michigan Museum of Art

University of Michigan Museum of Art
Ann Arbor, United States


  • Title: The Break-up of the Ice (La Débâcle or Les Glaçons)
  • Creator: Claude Monet
  • Date Created: 1880
  • Location: Vétheuil and Paris,France
  • Physical Dimensions: w99.9 x h60.3 (work)
  • Label Copy: The winter of 1879 - 80 was one of Europe's coldest on record and Monet, who was living in the small town of Vétheuil, witnessed first hand the devastation when the frozen Seine river thawed, dislodging large ice floes that inundated the countryside and damaged bridges. In this painting, Monet explores two contrasting aspects of painting: spatial recession and surface patterning. As the Seine recedes at the left, Monet's vertical reflections and horizontal floes superimpose a painterly grid that brings the eye constantly back to the surface of the canvas. The exploration of this tension between depth and surface was one of the defining concerns of his career. This debacle of the Seine was the subject of about twenty paintings that Monet worked on into the early spring of 1880. These paintings of ice floes chart MonetÕs early fascination with capturing the same motif under differing conditions of light and at different times of day. They were produced over a period of months, while MonetÕs later series such as those of haystacks, poplar trees, and Rouen cathedral, were extended investigations of the ephemeral effects of light on a motif during ever-narrower time framesÑsome as brief as fifteen minutes in duration.
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/musart/x-1976-sl-2.134/1976_2.134.JPG?lasttype=boolean;lastview=thumbnail;resnum=1;sel9=ic_exact;size=20;sort=relevance;start=1;subview=detail;view=entry;rgn1=musart_an;select1=starts;q1=1976%2F2.134
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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